Helping Your Life Work
February 2010
Volume 6, Issue 2

'Should I Stay or Should I Go?'

Valentine's Day tends to evoke a number of emotions. If we are in a happy relationship, we celebrate our love and care for another. If we are not in a relationship, we long to be in one. And if we are unhappy with the relationship, we struggle to decide whether to hold on or let go.

A great number of books have been written on the subject of relationships, and I thought I would introduce you to two that were written by colleagues of mines. Dorothy Ratusny, a psychotherapist, specializing in cognitive behavioural therapy, has written a book called "The Purpose of Love: A Guidebook For Defining And Cultivating Your Most Significant Relationship" and Owen Williams, a relationship coach and founder of Inner Directions-The Centre for Relationship Excellence, has written "The Relationship Revolution."

There are many similarities and overlaps between the two books. Both are beautifully and capably written and both are insightful and helpful. Both are intended for those in a relationship or those in search of one. Both emphasize the critical role that our family histories play in forging our core beliefs about ourselves and how, unchallenged, those beliefs continue to impact our relationships throughout our lives. Both highlight how we stand to learn and improve much about ourselves by challenging those old beliefs while in a relationship.

However, there is one essential difference between the two. According to Owen Williams, "The Relationship Revolution calls us to take divorce off the table." He contends that, "refusing ourselves that easy way out, will enable us to focus on the relationship, on ourselves, and on each other." He does hasten to add, however, that we not stay in a 'marriage of misery.' He suggests that the other in the relationship is often the exact person we need to be with to grow and blossom. He encourages us to forego our need to blame or find fault with the other, to take responsibility for our contributions to the problems, and focus on the needs of the relationship more than our own personal needs. "The relationship becomes the catalyst of our own individual growth and potential." He warns that if we do not deal with the problems in the present relationship, we are destined to repeat the same in another.

On the other hand, Dorothy's book suggests that each relationship that we enter into brings us one step closer to the ideal, and that success doesn't mean staying in the relationship. If the couple is spiritually incompatible, for example, the purpose of the relationship is essentially over and the couple should separate and move on. According to Dorothy, if you want the ideal relationship, you need to work on yourself. "Your love relationships are always reflective of the relationship that you currently have with yourself. The greater your willingness to move beyond what you have always done and to challenge yourself to grow, to seek more from yourself and your life, the greater the likelihood that your relationships will be far more rewarding and honest largely as a result of your desire to make them so."

If you are struggling to make a decision about whether to stay or leave your current relationship, I would highly recommend that you enter into a process with a professional who can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings. And to supplement that process, I would recommend either or both of these books. Good luck.

Barbara Fish, M.Ed.
Personal and Career Counsellor
416 498-1352
“Helping Your Life Work”

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